Science Seminars

Advances in Understanding the History of Water and Potential for Life at Mars

Speaker: Brian Hynek (CU/LASP)
Date: Thursday, Feb 20, 2020
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: SPSC W120

Seminar Abstract:

A top level goal of NASA is to determine if there is life beyond Earth. Mars is a key target in this search, owing to its prolonged history of water at the surface that must have been supported by a much thicker atmosphere than at present. A plethora of spacecraft have recently visited Mars and their data can be used to address the timing, duration, magnitude, geographic extent, and chemistry of fluids interacting with the martian crust. My group has taken a multi-pronged approach to the history of water including remote sensing data analysis, fieldwork, modeling, and laboratory studies. I will show some highlights from our work on the hydrology and fluvial geomorphology of Mars implying protracted precipitation and surface runoff. Chemical and mineralogical signatures are also present at Mars, supporting this hypothesis, and provide insights into past water:rock interactions. We have been conducting analog fieldwork, laboratory experiments, and geochemical modeling to better understand relict hydrothermal systems at Mars, which would have been a key environment for any potential life.